- Scientific name: Lespisma sacchrina
- Size: ½ to 1 inch
- Color: Light gray to silvery blue
- Shape: A rounded, elongated triangle shape
- Found in: All of the United States
What are they?
Silverfish are a nocturnal insect and widespread across much of the world. They have a very characteristic shape, with a tapering body shape and three long cerci, or matched appendages, on the end of their abdomens. They do have eyes, unlike other members of their scientific family, but are wingless. Silverfish are so named because of their coloration and signature wriggling body movement. Silverfish are one of the few types of insects that continue to moult after they have reached adulthood. Silverfish are prey to other insects as well, such as earwigs and spiders. They are one of the species of insect thought to be descended from some of the most primitive types of insects in the world.
How can you tell you have them?
Silverfish damage can be very easily concealed for quite a while if the home has large boxes of books, unsealed containers of such dry goods as sugar and flours and older collections of organic fabrics. Silverfish are easily spotted when you turn on the lights in a usually dark area of the house like a basement or crawlspace. Silverfish can be spotted when older boxes are moved as small, fast moving gray insects. You can also inspect the bindings of older, less used books in your home for signs of silverfish damage, especially if those books are stored in less used areas of the home. Silverfish will also will damage wallpaper if they are trying to get at the paste underneath.
What kind of environment do they like?
As silverfish are nocturnal animals, they prefer to stay in darker, moist environments. Silverfish can survive up to a year without food, but they are still very sensitive to moisture and temperature levels. Silverfish can be found, in general closer to the ground levels of homes, but can be found in the attics of a home if they are in search of food.
The silverfish are classified scientifically because of they typically gain their nutrients from a diet of starches and starches. Silverfish can cause extensive damage to items such as books, feeding on the adhesives that hold together those. Silverfish also eat other such things as plaster, some paints, photos, sugar, hair, carpet, clothing and dandruff. Silverfish will also eat things like organic fibers, dead insects and sometimes their own discarded exoskeleton. Silverfish do not transmit disease, but are considered pests because of all of the damage they can do, if left unchecked.
What to do?
Silverfish, like many household pests, are attracted to moisture and easy access to food. Once of the best ways to control silverfish infestation is to remove their reason for intruding into human habitation in the first place. Fixing leaks, making sure the areas of the house that are directly affected by the passage of water, like under the sink cabinets, basements and bathrooms and also making sure dried goods are stored in airtight containers is a good start at preventing infestation. Silverfish can be trapped to help control an infestation, and some sources claim that the use of cedar chips can help as well.